Canadian Supreme Court Rules That Vancouver's Insite Drug Injection Clinic Will Stay Open
October 3, 2011
When Insite, the first-ever safe injection drug site in Canada, opened its doors in Vancouver in 2003, controversy immediately followed. Many questioned whether Insite's existence would encourage more drug use, usher in crime and worsen public health. But 30 studies in eight years have proven these fears to be unwarranted. Matter of fact, research has found that by providing sanitary conditions for addicts while they inject drugs, medical supervision to monitor for overdoses, clean needles, and counseling for those seeking rehabilitation, this center saves lives, reduces the risk of IV drug users contracting HIV, and has lowered the number of overdoses in the area.
But despite overwhelming scientific and community support for Insite, Canada's conservative leadership has been trying to shut it down over the years, claiming that the injection center breaks federal anti-drug laws. But thanks to a landmark decision handed down from Canada's Supreme Court last week, Insite will stay open.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that closing the clinic would be a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that the federal health minister must grant Insite an exemption from federal laws. In the ruling, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote: "Insite saves lives. Its benefits have been proven. There has been no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada during its eight years of operation."
Supporters of Insite immediately celebrated their victory and expressed relief over the decision.
In a statement, Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Health Minister, said, "Although we are disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada's decision today, we will comply. We believe that the system should be focused on preventing people from becoming drug addicts."
Harm reduction advocates are hoping that this decision will translate into more centers like Insite opening up throughout Canada.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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This article was provided by TheBody.
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